Blinding Lights and Tranquil Darkness
The scarlet letter is about how a woman, named Hester Prynee, goes through her life with both an illegitimate child and a bright letter “A” planted on her chest. She designs the letter “A” to look as beautiful as possible placing bright decorative thread on it, despite her sins. Hawthorne uses light to reveal the blinding evils of everyone and the darkness to represent the soothing truth of people’s lives.
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, light is used to represent the evils while darkness is ironically used to represent good. The contrasts between dark and light express how despite the religious dedication of Puritans, they were still human and not the perfect beings they pretended to be. Hester in the beginning is portrayed as bright and beautiful. It went on to describe how she had decorated her “A” in a bright manner as if to present to everyone her terrible sin. She always “had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam; and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes….was that SCARLET LETTER, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom.” (46) However, despite that the scarlet letter is evil, it is described to be “illuminated”, a word associated with light. The scarlet letter is ironically described as illuminating rather than using it in comparison with darkness and despite that it’s a symbol of her sins. Then she is described as beautiful and throws off sunshine despite that she is someone who has committed a heinous crime.
... face. John 1:5 – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” Isaiah 9 ... :2 – “The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light. They lived in a land of shadows, ... mines of never failing skill, He treasures up his bright designs, and works his sovereign will. You fearful ... times if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore Please bow your head and ...
Again, rather than describing her with a form of darkness Hawthorne uses light to describe an evil “object”. Then, later on as she is strolling around with Pearl the child “was admirably adapted to Pearl’s beauty, and made her the very brightest little jet of flame that ever danced upon the earth.”(82) Pearl is a representation of Hester Prynne’s sin and Pearl is described as “the very brightest little jet of flame”. Pearl, the essence of Hester’s evil sin is described as the brightest little jet of flame. Despite being proof of her sin, Pearl is described in light rather than the popular theme for evil, darkness. When Dimmesdale is reflecting upon his own sins he is “the dimmest of all shadows” (114) Dimmesdale is considered to be the “good” character because despite his sins the amount of guilt hung over by him is so great that he finds it necessary to make himself atone for it. That is why Hawthorne describes him as the “dimmest of all shadows” to make him the most benevolent person of all. Hester, Pearl, and the Scarlet Letter are all described in a fashion where light is present yet, the “good” character, Dimmesdale, is described while being enshrouded in darkness.
The second part of the Scarlet Letter is supposed to represent how everybody’s mental state is deteriorating and they are becoming more evil or good. This is proven through the effective uses of people’s loss of light and being illuminated in the darkness. Hester is becoming less and less beautiful as time had progressed. Her “light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this red-hot brand, and had long ago fallen away, leaving a bare and harsh outline”(128) It appears that Hester has loss all of her beauty because of the scarlet letter which was described earlier as “fantastically embroidered” and was almost glimmering in the light. Then, shortly after, she had gone through “a sad transformation, too, that her rich and luxuriant hair had either been cut off, or was so completely hidden by a cap, that not a shining lock of it ever once gushed into the sunshine.”(128) A cap which is used to cover a person’s hair/head is now blocking Hester from sunlight and is now in darkness. The lies were covered in sunlight, but now it’s an ugly, dark truth when she is covered by the cap. Later on as Pearl is talking to Hester about a Black Man she mentions a story that said that “this scarlet letter was the Black Man’s mark on thee, and that it glows like a red flame when thou meetest him at midnight, here in the dark wood. Is it true, mother? And dost thou go to meet him in the nighttime?”(145) The scarlet letter is again referred as a bright object or in this case a bright flame when meeting the man at midnight. Every time she goes to supposedly meet the black man or the Devil her letter burns brightly. By having the letter burn brightly on her sins and evil are clearly represented by light as it was bestowed upon by the Black Man or the Devil.
... relief to his long suffering. Instead of facing his sin, Dimmesdale shirks his responsibilities and discovers a sense of relief. ... punishment for his actions. By attempting to hide his sins, Dimmesdale's troubled conscience begins to destroy him from the inside ... Detrimental Effect of Hester s Advice on Dimmesdale After committing the sin of adultery, Dimmesdale s physical and mental condition begins ...
The last part of the Scarlet Letter uses light and darkness to finally reveal to the readers that light is the true representation of evil as it can be blinding and misleading while the darkness can be calming. Dimmesdale is extremely significant in the finale because he is constantly referred by both the light and the darkness as he finally confesses his sins to everybody in the town. Before his confession Pearl is speaking of Dimmesdale claiming that “In the dark nighttime he calls us to him, and holds thy hand and mine, as when we stood with him on the scaffold yonder! And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strip of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss!…But, here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him!”(179) Only during the night time is Dimmesdale able to act in a fatherly fashion. The night is acting as an environment where they could speak truthfully and act truthfully. However, when it’s sunny out they aren’t supposed to make any contact to him whatsoever. After giving himself a definite decision on whether to confess or not he is described as “an angel, in his passage to the skies, had shaken his bright wings over the people for an instant–at once a shadow and a splendour–and had shed down a shower of golden truths upon them.” Dimmesdale after his death is described as both a shadow and an angel that showers “golden truths”.
... his drama Antigone shared many common concepts regarding light and darkness. Both emphasized that the truth and enlightenment could not be found with ... to which their concepts of light and darkness affect humanity. Sophocles' light, in the form of Teiresias, allows truth to permeate throughout one's ...
Hawthorne clearly wanted the darkness motif to be known as a symbol of truth and good because of Dimmesdale association with an angel. Then, Dimmesdale is going to confess about his adultery and as the father of Pearl and the sins “which they had just beheld burning on his cheek, was extinguished, like a flame that sinks down hopelessly among the late decaying embers”(194) The confession of his sins is both considered as good because he is confessing all of his crimes resulting in the decaying of his light or his evil.
Throughout the Scarlet Letter Hawthorne is able to reveal the truths and lies or the good and evils about a person through his uses of light and darkness. This could be Hester’s appearances described as bright and beautiful despite her sins or Dimmesdale’s darker actions which are seen as the truth and the good.